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We might approach this subject by throwing the ball into the field and letting the people scramble for it and catch on as they can, but that in the long run probably would not work out as well as some sort of a system. The committee, I think, will i have to indulge to-day, and maybe another day, in a kind of fishing expedition in order to get the line in which the minds of the witnesses may seem to be running. It is the chairman's hope that after we have opened the subject m such a way as to disclose pretty generally—not so specifically as possible) but pretty generally—what we are about to consider, that we then will be able to say to those who are representing particular features of either of these bills that we would like to have them get together or make up their minds as to their procedure, and maybe agree upon a spokesman or two, with the understanding that the others who agree in general with what the spokesman may say will be content with registering their presence and say "Amen" to what may be advanced as argument in behalf of their attitude.
With such a general proposition in mind, we will ask Mr. French, a, Member of Congress from Idaho, who is the original proponent of the truth in fabrics proposition, to address the committee in respect of his own bill, and any or all other bills which are comprehended in the list.
In order that you may know what is before you for consideration, as a matter of help in determining whether your special interests are likely to be considered, the chairman will advise you that the following bills have been selected, either in their entirety or in part as pertinent to the general discussion. These bills are all House of Representatives bills, and I will merely call the number as follows: 16, 60, 732, 738, 739, 742, 3225, 4141, 7758, 7822, 7965, 7997.
The bills which are essentially truth in fabric bills are: 732, 739, 4141, and even then some of their provisions may reach a little beyond strictly truth in fabrics.
Mr. French, we will now be glad to hear you.
STATEMENT OF HON. BURTON L. FRENCH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FEOM THE STATE OF IDAHO
Mr. French. Mr. Chairman, did you want at this time to make a list of those who are particularly interested in the phase of the subject that I am going to discuss?
The Chairman. That was not the purpose, Mr. French, at this moment. The idea was to see—and I will outline Mrhat the chairman had in mind—the committee has had no opportunity whatever to know what is going to be before them,, either as to witnesses or as to procedure, but the chairman's mind was to start in with the truth in fabrics and ask you as a proponent of that measure! to make any statement you want to in respect of your own bill and the others—go into the field of misbranding, if you choose, in connection with your bill—and follow you, maybe, by a witness who is especially in favor of your bill and partially opposed to some measures, who will represent the intermediate position as affecting truth in fabrics, and to find out if there is anybody here later on who is absolutely opppsed on general principles and specifically to the whole idea of the truth in fabrics. That would exhaust the general features.
We can go into misbranding in the same way, but not so easily, but we can follow it. Meanwhile, after the general statements have been made so that the witnesses who are interested in specific subjects can see just where they fit in, we could ask for the various interests represented to organize themselves and perhaps approach the matter through spokesmen.
Mr. Barklet. Before Mr. French begins, let me make this statement. As the author of one of these misbranding bills I am naturally interested in the subject. I have been suddenly called home and will probably have to leave here tonight, but I do not know how long I will be away. I would like to reserve the right that if the hearings have not been concluded when I return, I may make a short statement to the committee on the subject.
The Chairman. Before concluding—you mean before any decision is reached on the bill?
Mr. Barkley. Yes, sir.
The Chairman. How long do you expect to be gone, Mr. Barkley(
Mr. Barkley. I may be gone a week.
The Chairman. I think your chances are very good for getting in before we finish.
Mr. Barkley. I simply wanted to reserve the right, if the hearings have not been finished, to appear.
The Chairman. We will have it further understood that we will not finish the bills until you get back, unless there is some objection.
Mr. Barkley. I do not want any understanding of that sort, because if you complete the hearings before I return, I do not reserve any rights so far as I am concerned, but if they have not been completed, I would like to make a statement.
The Chairman. By all means, yes.
Mr. French. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, there are quite a number of gentlemen present who have come into the room since the members of the committee began to assemble this morning, who are interested especially in truth-in-fabrics legislation, and who will want to be heard. I shall endeavor to indicate to you their names at a later time.
Let me say also that I have received numerous letters and telegrams upon the subject, and a great many of those who are interested in this legislation desire to register their approval of the representations that have been made heretofore before this committee and before the Interstate Commerce Committee of the Senate in support of truth-in-fabric legislation, and have felt that they could add nothing to what they have said, but desire that the expressions heretofore made be regarded as their present expression of judgment upon the measures. ' ;i'''
The bill, truth in fabric, H. R. 739, is the1 one introduced by myself in the House, and corresponds to Senate bill 1024, introduced by Senator Capper. These two bills are similar to the bills that were considered in the Sixty-seventh Congress, and upon which extensive hearings were held by this committee and also by.the Interstate Commerce Committee of the Senate. . .,
The hearings four years ago were held from March 19, to March 31, 1920, by the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Gom^ merce. Hearings on the same subject were held on the Senate side in 1921, from June 1 to July 8. --.,i. . , i:
Hearings have been held this year by the Committee on Interstate Commerce of the Senate, between the dates February 28 and March 12.
In other words, this subject has been very completely presented to the committees of Congress, and we regard that the data that has been furnished to you upon the bill that Senator Capper and myself have introduced in Congress is rather encyclopaedic in character, and that which could be added at this time would be largely repetition and with the thought of directing your attention to that wnich has been most fully presented to the Congress heretofore.
This subject is not new. In fact, when we asked you to consider it four years ago it was not a new subject, although approached from a new angle. The question of misbranding fabrics was considered more than 20 years ago. It found expression through a bill introduced by General Grosvenor in the House of Representatives, in which it was sought to correct the abuses that we seek to correct. However, Representative Grosvenor at that time approached the question through the taxing powers under the Constitution, and sought through the Ways and Means Committee, by means of taxation, somewhat similar in principle to the handling of the oleomargarine manufacture, to handle this question.
Four years ago we attempted to handle the subject from the standpoint of controlling the branding of goods such as are referred to in the bill, through the Interstate Commerce powers conferred upon the Congress by the Constitution.
The first thing that addresses itself to members of the committee is the question: What is it all about? What do you seek to do? What is the purpose of the bill?
The other day, as I was going down Connecticut Avenue, I noticed in front of an antique shop an old spinning wheel. It was an antique, and yet, measured by the history of our people in America it does not go back to so late a period. That spinning wheel represented an industry, a type of life during three-fourths of the period within which white people have lived upon the American Continent. It speaks of a time when we did not need to consider a bill like this, because practically all, or all, of the fiber, the wool, or the cotton, that entered into clothing, entered into fabrics in its raw state as virgin material, virgin wool, or virgin cotton. It was largely the product of the home or of the small institution, and there was no occasion for considering the question of branding or labeling in order that the public might not be deceived. However, with the increase of population in this and in other countries, the demand for the different products for clothing became so great that we had to find ways of using clothing, blankets, and other cotton and woolen fabrics, fabrics that had been used before, over and over again, to supply the necessities of our people and the people of the world.
When you stop to think of it, the population of the world today and the great need of peoples for clothing, the fact that we have in the world approximately a little over 600,000,000 head of sheep, and within the United States approximately 50,000,000 head; when you think of the limited amount of wool that could properly be allocated to each person living in the temperate and frigid zones, you can realize at once the necessity for husbanding every bit of fiber of this character to the longest period of time within which it can be used. Within the United States we have approximately 50,000,000 sheep, and the annual output of clean wool is approximately 300,000,000 pounds. We bring into the United States from foreign countries to use within the United States approximately 250,000,000 pounds. In other words, annually we have something like between 550,000,000 and 600,000,000 pounds of clean wool for the use of upwards of 100,000,000 people, and when you stop to think of the number of pounds of wool necessary to make a suit of clothes, necessary to make an overcoat or a blanket, it must appear at once that our people and the people living in the temperate and frigid zones generally must exercise the greatest degree of prudence and husbandry in order to maintain a sufficient amount of the fiber known as wool, in order to meet their wants from day to day.
This bill does not seek to modify in any way the manufacture of woolen fabrics. It does not seek to disturb the use of fibers over and over again, but it does seek to indicate to the populations who use woolen or partly woolen fabrics, what the contents of the fabrics may be.
Probably a word with regard to the reuse of wool and of cotton would be of interest. Until a little over 100 years ago there was no practical way, after wool or cotton fibers had been woven into cloth, of abstracting it from its use and placing it in a shape by which it could be used again. The nearest approach to it was the cutting up of the fabric and making it into rugs by means of weaving the strips of cloth into the rugs with which you are familiar. But about 100 years ago, and for about 50 years, through experimentation ways were developed by which the ingredients of a piece of cloth could be separated so as to leave the ingredients that were desired. For example, take a piece of cloth which was part cotton and part wool; chemicals were worked out that would rot or carbonize the cotton, or any other vegetable fibers, leaving the wool intact. Or, on the other hand, different chemicals would carbonize the wool and animal fibers, hair, etc., and leave the cotton or the vegetable fibers intact. In other words, if cotton were high and wool were cheap, you could rot out the wool; if wool had the premium, you could rot out the vegetable fibers and save the wool. That is done to-day in large degree. Millions of pounds of clothing, of mattresses, of blankets, are salvaged all over the United States, are brought to establishments where the process of reclamation is carried out. For the most part we are salvaging for the wool content. Hastily describing the process the fabrics are separated. Lightcolored fabrics, for instance, are put into one place, Dlankets, underwear, materials which have not been colored. The colored fabrics are grouped in other piles. Buttons and trimmings are cut off. In fact to the extent reasonably practicable the contents of the rubbish pile are separated as to quality, color, and mixture of ingredients.
Then, after that is done, the different woolen garments or fabrics are put into vats containing liquids that will carbonize the vegetable fibers, and in due course the fabric which contains the wool but which is filled with the rot of the vegetable fiber will be taken out, dried by a mechanical process, and the dust or the carbonized vegetable content will be eliminated. The fabric then will be shredded by machinery and the fibers made available for reuse.
Naturally, in going through this process of heat and contact with chemicals oil has been abstracted and certain oils must be put into the wool-fiber product.
As I have said, the light materials have been separated from the dark. The light fiber is more valuable because it will admit of any kind of dyes. It can be used in many places where the dark can not be used. The dark can only be used in the manufacture of dark material; the light can be used in the manufacture of any kind of materials where this type of reclaimed materials can be used.
Now, what is the result of reclaiming the fiber in this way? It. depreciates the value of the fiber. It rubs, for instance, from the wool that scale that you are familiar with, that you recognize, for instance, on a hair, or would readily recognize under a microscope. Elimination of this scale tends to prevent the fiber from holding in the yarn; therefore it becomes the weaker, the fiber itself is worn smooth through wear, and through this repeated process, the heating, the handling, until it is a thinner fiber than it was when new. In other words, the reclaimed fiber is not as valuable as it was, any more than a piece of machinery is of the same value after it has been used for years. There is a wear, and that is precisely what occurs in clothing. It occurs with the individual fiber. Even so it is reclaimed, and properly reclaimed and is used for the manufacture of clothing over and over again.
This bill provides that as to all woven fabrics and as to yarns entering interstate and foreign commerce, the manufacturer shall indicate in a general way the wool content and the content of cotton or silk or shoddy. The reclaimed materials to which I have referred are called "shoddy." "Shoddy" is defined in the bill. It is fiber material used after it has been used before. It does not necessarily need to be wool; it may be cotton, it may be hemp, it may be feathers, so far as that is concerned.
This bill then provides that as to woolen goods or yarns entering into interstate commerce they shall be branded or marked in a general way, in terms such as: "Not more than" a certain amount, or "not less than" a certain amount. In other words, the public is given to understand whether the fiber' that is within the fabric that is being bought is new wool or cotton or silk, whether it is reclaimed fiber, and in a general way the proportion of each.
The reason why it is necessary that legislation of this kind should be enacted is that when the fiber that has been reclaimed is put into the cloth it is in such shape that the ordinary purchaser can not know whether or not it is new fiber or whether it is old, and in fact not know accurately as to other content. In other words, it is a very difficult proposition for anyone excepting the person who manufactures the fabric to know what the content is, the test to the purchaser being in the ultimate wear of the article itself, and when it is too late to correct a mistake.
At this point let me say that the proponents of this bill do not claim that all virgin wool is better than all shoddy or all reworked material. We recognize that the better fiber of, say,' a blanket, might be better than the poorest quality of raw Or new wool. But no reworked wool is as good as the new wool from which it was first spun. This bill will permit the use of shoddy or reclaimed material, and the public in buying would have the opportunity of knowing whether or not a